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Thread: Women and Children First?

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    Senior Member dazza's Avatar
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    Default Women and Children First?

    Recently, our news channels have been saturated with accounts of the striken cruise ship, the Costa Concordia. Not just of the disaster itself, but of the actions of those on board, particularly that of the captain and his crew. One headline has been seized upon above the others: the 'accepted', or perhaps expected protocol of 'women and children first' - immortalised in the public imagination following the sinking of the RMS Titanic, 15th April, 1912, whose Centenary is less than three months away.


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    It seems that the chivalrous call of "women and children first" was not given, or observed, on the Costa Concordia. Society often holds the actions of those in life threatening situations as a mirrror to itself, of what we have become, morally, and tries to make sense of the reflection looking back.


    Even before the Titanic, the moral action of 'women and children first' had a Mersey connection to it, and is tied to the actions of another ship:

    'HMS Birkenhead was one of the first iron-hulled ships built for the Royal Navy. She was designed as a frigate, but was converted to a troopship before being commissioned. She was built at John Laird's shipyard at Birkenhead.

    On 26 February 1852, while transporting troops to Algoa Bay, she was wrecked at Danger Point near Gansbaai on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. There were not enough serviceable lifeboats for all the passengers, and the soldiers famously stood firm, thereby allowing the women and children to board the boats safely. Only 193 of the 643 people on board survived, and the soldiers' chivalry gave rise to the "women and children first" protocol when abandoning ship, while the "Birkenhead drill" of Rudyard Kipling's poem came to describe courage in face of hopeless circumstances.'


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    The rest of the article here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Birkenhead_(1845)
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    Came fourth...now what? Oudeis's Avatar
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    The flag of convenience is incapable of flying at half mast.
    If there is to be greater regulation there will have to be more taxation...take your deep breath now...and hold.

    Last year a young British woman was 'lost overboard' off the west coast of the USA, I read that ONE policeman was sent out to the 'flag-nation' to investigate. Fat chance!

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    Senior Member dazza's Avatar
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    So true Oudeis, very few in power these days nail their true colours to the mast, preferring instead to hide behind lawyers, and 'official' statements.

    The operators were quick to condem the captain's actions, to save their own share price slide, and their part in any liability. The truth will out, perhaps, after the investigation. Disasters are seldom black and white affairs, except to those in power who would benefit from calling it that way.

    As sky-scrapers were called into question, after 911, so will the design and scale of cruise liners, not to mention the safety protocol's of the captain and crew.
    "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."... ... ... Mark Twain.

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    Senior Member GeorgePorgie's Avatar
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    Lets just have a recap here.....

    MrSmiths orders on the Titanic was misunderstood by MrLightholler and was under the impression by him as "Women and Children First" into the lifeboats

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    Senior Member dazza's Avatar
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    Yes George, there is some controversy here:

    Captain Smith said: "Women and Children first"; not, "Women and Children only". As we know there were an insufficient number of lifeboats on board to deal with the full complement of passengers.

    Perhaps, his intension was ... Women and Children first into the lifeboats, then Men, in even numbers??? We may never know?
    "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."... ... ... Mark Twain.

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    Senior Member GeorgePorgie's Avatar
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    The protocol of "Women and Children first" should be scrapped and it should be as many passengers as humanly possible put into the lifeboats because as with the Titanic more than half the lifeboats were never filled to max capacity so therefore many more lives would have been saved from the ship if the protcol was not in force.

    It is panic stations when a ship is sinking and almost impossible for its crew to be calm and precise.

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    Senior Member dazza's Avatar
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    I also think in the Titanic's case, having a number of men in each lifeboat would have made sense ... to help pull passengers out of the water, and to row/steer the lifeboats.
    "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."... ... ... Mark Twain.

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    Came fourth...now what? Oudeis's Avatar
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    I have seen a picture of the sister-ship it has 13 life boats slung either side and given the number of passengers and crew on this boat that works out to 161.5 people to each boat. Perhaps a bit of a squeeze?

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    Senior Member GeorgePorgie's Avatar
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    There are also inflatable life rafts on many modern ships,Oudi.

    And at the end of the day it ran aground so therefore it is possible for any passengers to swim to safty.

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    The mind boggles when you hear that the stricken liner of that size drew only 28 foot of water. would have to have an awful lot of pig iron as ballast. I think the broad beam of these ships is the only thing that keeps them upright.
    When I see these cruise ships at Liverpool`s terminal at low water I have to marvel as they are only about 50 yards from the mud of the river wall.
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    one report had a woman saying "the crew was pushing past them to get to the lifeboats"
    1 of course they was you cant expect a passenger to know how to launch a lifeboat or what to do.
    2 when in a survival situation follow rule 1 "do what you have to do to live"
    i am sorry but if the ship i was on was sinking even if you was standing holding 3 kids you was getting out of my way (by force is ness) so i could be on that 1st lifeboat over the side. you only paid 500 euros to take the cruise what do you expect? immortalty?

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    It has struck me that given the fight by women for equality which is now enshrined in law - it the idea of "Women and Children First" outdated?

    If one wanted to be chivalrous should it not now be the families with young children first?

    Just a thought!

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